Private Operator to operate Bangalore Suburban Rail

The suburban rail project will have a 148-km network in the city with 57 stations.

BANGALORE: The suburban rail project may see trains being operated through a private party after the suggestion made it to the revised detailed project report. As per the plan, the suburban rail project will have a 148-km network in the city with 57 stations. Nearly 50 trains, each having six coaches, will be operated and each coach will have a capacity of 300 passengers.

Amit Garg, who heads Karnataka Rail Infrastructure Development Enterprises (K-RIDE), a special purpose vehicle for the project, said: “Our consultant has suggested a public-private partnership (PPP) model for running the trains on the lines of the Delhi Metro. In many parts of the world, in projects involving huge infrastructure, governments provide civil infrastructure and the operations are done through a private party. As per the estimation done, the cost of procuring the trains is around ₹2,000 crore. A final decision on whether operations of trains will be done through a private player will happen after we complete the civil infrastructure.”

Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) has announced that it is is contemplating roping in private operators to run metro trains in phase II of the Namma Metro project, while Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has already taken a decision to lease electric buses through a private operator under FAME II scheme.

Mr. Garg said that as per the DPR, fares for travelling in trains under the suburban project are likely to be lesser than Namma Metro fares, but higher than BMTC.

In April, while asking the K-RIDE to revise the DPR, the Union government had suggested that the fare box revenue should be planned in a manner that it would meet operations and maintenance cost of the project, duly considering the fare prevalent in other modes of transport.

The Centre had also suggested to explore the PPP model in implementing the project and revise the DPR in such way that suburban rail alignment must not clash with Namma Metro alignments.

On Monday, the Bengaluru Division of South Western Railway (SWR) held a meeting with MPs and they asked the officials to expedite the pending project.

Mr. Garg said, “In August, the Karnataka government approved the revised DPR. In September, the Ministry of Railways approved it. Now, the DPR has to be approved by the Expanded Board of Railways (EBR) in which the NITI Aayog is the member. We expect the EBR to approve the project in a week or 10 days. Then it goes to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. It is a major investment decision. We are hoping we will get final approval by November .”

The entire project is estimated to cost ₹ 15,990 crore.